LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Amend the 2015 Mandatory Release law

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Dear Editor,

On September 12, 2020, a horrendous crime was committed to someone very near and dear to our hearts. Herndon “Junior” Self was a hard-working and outgoing husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, and uncle whose only fault was putting his trust in the wrong person. 

The shocking part about this crime is that the suspect of this crime was recently released only two days prior based upon the 2015 Mandatory Release law. This law doesn’t stand alone in needing to be revised as the suspected individual had already been released multiple times beforehand only to continuously be a statistic for recidivism. 

In efforts to keep our community and state safer, we are requesting collaboration with our state representatives in amending the 2015 Mandatory Release law. The law needs to be revised specifically in what allows an individual to be eligible for its benefits. As it stands now, those who are obvious habitual offenders can slip through the cracks and be released into society only to reoffend and continue to be a danger and issue in our legal system and society. Someone with a lengthy background in crime and violent offenses including rape, assault, and domestic violence (strangulation and harassment), as was the case with the suspect of “Junior’s” murder should not be eligible for Mandatory release. The law must be amended requiring stricter criteria to be considered including looking specifically at the individual’s full record and making considerations based on the specific individual’s probability of recidivism. The fact that an individual has served time for past offenses should not be erased from the decision of allowing someone to be released from prison; furthermore, the most recent offense should not be the only criteria for eligibility of inmates. This law and the leniency of time served in the suspect’s multiple cases puts the lives of innocent people at risk each and every day. Innocent individuals who are law-abiding citizens are forced to be exposed to violent criminals because of this law and its flaws or lack of specific criteria to determine eligibility. 

It is our goal and agenda to be the voice of the law-abiding citizens and demand that our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren be protected by not allowing criminals with lengthy and consistent criminal offenses to be allowed to receive shortened sentences. We, as the family of Herndon “Junior” Self, anticipate collaborating with the Alabama Legislative Delegation to ensure individuals such as those in the preventable murder of our family member are not allowed to again take the life of an innocent due to the law.

Sincerely,

Nicholas/Jessica Self (son & daughter-in-law of victim), Patrick Self (son of victim),  Rachel Cone (niece of victim), Crystal Perdue (niece of victim),  Donna Campbell (sister of victim), Anthony Self (brother of victim), Randy Self (brother of victim), Denise Hollis (sister of victim), Bonnie Johns (sister of victim), Kelton Self (brother of victim) & Edna Cagle (mother of victim)